Saturday, July 23, 2011

Though I Speak with the Tongue of Angels

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, chapter 5:
The stout student who stood below them on the steps farted briefly. Dixon turned towards him, saying in a soft voice:

—Did an angel speak?

You Know All the Tricks

Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995), pp.194-196:
Past the crouching men, the three found a suitable spot. "The steel rail is very useful," said their neighbour. "Works just like a platform. Puts you higher than the ground, and the shit doesn't tickle your behind when it piles up."

"You know all the tricks, for sure," said Om, as they undid their pants and assumed their positions on the rail.

"Takes very little time to learn." He indicated the men in the scrub. "Now squatting here can be dangerous. Poisonous centipedes crawl about in there. I wouldn't expose my tender parts to them. Also, if you lose your balance in those bushes, you end up with an arseful of thorns."


"Tell me, O great Goo Guruji, do you recommend that we buy a railway timetable, if we are to squat on the tracks every morning?"

"No need for that, my obedient disciple. In a few days your gut will learn the train timings better than the stationmaster."


Along the line, men and women abandoned the tracks and waited by the ditch for the locomotive interruption to pass; the ones in the bushes stayed put. Rajaram pointed at a train compartment as it glided slowly in front of them.

"Look at those bastards," he shouted. "Staring at people shitting, as if they themselves are without bowels. As if a turd emerging from an arse-hole is a circus performance." He flung obscene gestures at the passengers, making some of them turn away.


" I wish I could bend over, point, and shoot it like a rocket in their faces," said Rajaram. "Make them eat it, since they are so interested in it." He shook his head as they walked back to their shacks. "That kind of shameless behaviour makes me very angry."

"My grandfather's friend, Dayaram," said Om, "he was force to eat a landlord's shit once, because he was late ploughing his field."

Rajaram emptied the last drops of water from his can into his palm and slicked back his hair. "Did that Dayaram develop any magic power afterwards?"

"No, why?"

"I've heard of a caste of sorcerers. They eat human shit, it gives them their black powers."

"Really?" said Om. "Then we could start a business—collect all these lumps from the track, package them and sell to that caste. Ready-made lunches, teatime snacks, hot and steaming."
Hat tip: A friend.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The New Doctrine of Odorific Effluvia

Miscellaneous Works of Dr. William Wagstaffe, 2nd ed. (London: Jonah Bowyer, 1726), pp. 89-92:
I cannot but take Notice of one Circumstance before I conclude, which may serve to shew to what an Height of Folly, Ambition or Success may raise a Man. Bob, it seems, was mightily addicted to breaking Wind backwards, and nothing could offend him more, than to see the Uneasiness it gave his Adversaries. Accordingly he took Occasion, the next time the Convention met, to acquaint them, That notwithstanding he often broke Wind, yet he never perceived any Smell attended it. This immediately was admitted into their Belief, and propagated throughout the whole Kingdom, with all the Industry imaginable. It was the Discourse of the Ladies over their Tea, and debated everywhere; all the Party attesting the Truth of it, with their usual Modesty. A Chymist, who wrote in his Defence, affirmed publickly, That breaking Wind, being nothing else but a Volatile Spirit, extracted from the Vital Sulphur of the Zibethum Occidentale, wherein consisted the Essence of Life, and the Virtual Powers of all Being, a Mystery not to be comprehended by Lower Intelligences, it was impossible the Olfactories should be attacked by any foetid or putrid Effluvia.

The Majority of the Nation, who for a long Time together had tamely submitted to the Usurpations of Bob Hush, were now no longer to be deluded by the Cant of Chymistry and Enthusiasm, but resolved to assert the Prerogative of their Senses; and several who had been led Blindfold by him, had their Eyes opened. The new Doctrine of Odorific Effluvia was every where exploded and condemned, to the great Mortification of declining Bob, who either because he could not gain his Point, or because the Testimonies about that Time exhibited against him, might endanger either his Life or his Estate, or for some other Reasons best known to himself, left the Kingdom of Fairy-Land. Thus sneaked off that Champion of his Cause, who for so many Years together, had been the Discourse of the whole World, into a sort of voluntary Banishment, to the Ruin of his Party, and the Joy of all good Men, declaring publickly, He left left his Country, because he was not treated according to his Merit; when in reality it was because he could not prevail upon them to believe, he smelt sweet.